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10 “Unsafe” Things I Did While Pregnant

How I had a healthy pregnancy without rules

By Meredith Carroll |

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    10 unsafe things I did while pregnant

    The list of pregnancy no-nos is long and can seem cruel if what’s on it is exactly what you (or your little one inside) is craving. Surely there are virtuous women who follow the list of don’ts to the letter for all nine months, but how many moms-to-be are brave enough to admit they conveniently ignore what is allegedly bad because it makes them feel so good? I am. Here are 10 questionable things I did while pregnant.

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    Nitrates, nitrates, nitrates

    10 unsafe things I did while pregnant: Nitrates, nitrates, nitrates It’s a cruel irony that one of the biggest cravings I’ve had during both my pregnancies has been one of pregnancy’s biggest no-nos. Never in my life have the salty and savory goodness of bacon, salami and prosciutto called to me quite so loudly or sweetly. Sometimes I think maybe it’s not so bad, or even okay, to indulge if I buy an organic brand. Because organic makes everything better, doesn’t it?

    A healthier Egg McMuffin option (it's nitrate free!) »

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    10 unsafe things I did while pregnant: Soda I was never a coffee drinker but I enjoyed the occasional diet soda. And while I try to steer clear of things with ingredients like saccharin and aspartame while with child, somehow non-caffeinated beverages like root beer or anything with lemon-lime flavoring — high-fructose corn syrup be damned — doesn’t seem to weigh too heavily on my conscience. Sure, it’s wrong, but sometimes it’s just so right.

    A cup of coffee while pregnant? Experts say go for it! »

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    Farm-raised salmon

    10 unsafe things I did while pregnant: Farm-raised salmon I go out of my way to avoid certain fish, like shark, while pregnant. (I also avoid shark while not pregnant, and also while swimming.) But I have a harder time giving up other fish, like salmon. I usually buy the farm-raised kind and justify it because I tell myself it hasn’t been exposed to the seagull poop in the ocean. Even though I know pregnant women are supposed to eat the wild variety, it’s just so bloody expensive. Mommy wants her salmon affordable.

    8 safe pregnancy food swaps »

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    10 unsafe things I did while pregnant: Cheese What pregnant woman isn’t warned until kingdom come to shun non-pasteurized cheese? But is there really any cheese sold in the United State that isn’t pasteurized? I wouldn’t actually know because I never check the labels. Particularly because I just like cheese and want to eat it. Like, a lot.

    6 foodie- and pregnancy-friendly cheeses »

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    10 unsafe things I did while pregnant: Vodka Oh, relax. I don’t drink vodka — or any other alcoholic beverage — while pregnant. That would be wrong. No, instead I make penne alla vodka. And double the amount of vodka called for in the recipe. And then I don’t exactly let it cook long enough to burn off the alcohol. Same things go for coq au vin and anything else that calls for a protein combined with a liquid that has 80 proof in its subtitle.

    9 festive mocktail recipes for pregnant women »

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    Celebrity porn

    10 unsafe things I did while pregnant: Celebrity porn I’m a serious sucker for celebrity websites and glossy magazines, but reading about how knocked-up A-list movie stars and D-list reality show castoffs indulge in their fattiest food cravings and still don’t gain any weight, or how some exclusive furniture company came and decorated their baby’s nursery, or how some Parisian or Italian designer supplied their newborn’s layette isn’t good for me. It just isn’t. And yet I can’t look away.

    How to survive bed rest — a survivor shares her secrets »

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    Stomach sleeping

    10 unsafe things I did while pregnant: Stomach sleeping When I hit 16- or 17-weeks pregnant, the nurse told me it was time to stop sleeping on my stomach. But the way I see it, I’ll hurt my unborn baby more if I don’t get any sleep than if I sleep on my stomach for a few minutes each night while falling asleep. If my baby comes out with the imprint of my pajamas on her forehead, I’ll totally spring for her first plastic surgery.

    Missing: sleep. If found, please return to me »

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    10 unsafe things I did while pregnant: Shrimp I know all about bottom feeders and how you’re supposed to keep away from them during pregnancy. But you try being married to a man from Louisiana and then keep shrimp out of the house for nine months. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

    The 5 safest fish for your family »

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    Deli sandwiches

    10 unsafe things I did while pregnant: Deli sandwiches Listeria is another one of the kryptonites of pregnancy, which means you’re supposed to avoid deli meats or ask the person behind the deli counter to heat the turkey in your sandwich until it’s steaming. Seriously? Tell me you’ve really done the latter, and I’ll give you a medal.

    Got pregnancy cravings? Here are 7 ways to make them healthy »

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    Not exercise

    10 unsafe things I did while pregnant: Not exercise I sit all day long and work on a computer, and while heavy computer use is safe during pregnancy, not exercising isn’t. I know I’m supposed to get up once an hour to keep my blood moving. However, have you tried taking a break from work every hour and still managed to keep your job? If the answer is yes, let me know if there are any openings where you work.

    Pregnancy exercises you can do at home — no equipment necessary »

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About Meredith Carroll


Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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50 thoughts on “10 “Unsafe” Things I Did While Pregnant

  1. iris1973 says:

    I do steam my deli meat – takes only a few seconds and makes me less anxious. But I still have my 4 oz. of coffee in the morning (birth defects have not been scientifically reported until AFTER 3 8-oz. cups a day), I eat ham and bacon (nitrates?? I didn’t even know I wasn’t supposed to do that, other than salt makes me fatter). And cheese – it is against the law to produce and then distribute any non-pasteurized cheese in the U.S.: meaning, we can sell imported non-pasteurized cheese, but it all comes from other countries, not the U.S. So if your cheese is made in America, you don’t have to worry.

  2. peaches says:

    with all of my pregnancies i had to sleep on my stomach with added pillows for extra comfort. there was just no other way i could. it was the only position to keep me pain free and provided me with great sleep.i felt very uncomfortable sleeping on my side and could never fall asleep.all of mine were born healthy and no problems.

  3. Eh says:

    Uh, it’s unpasteurized cheese you’re supposed to avoid. You were fine. And I’m pretty sure porn isn’t unsafe either, lol… The only thing I read here that was really stressed to me as a “no no” was the deli meat, and that really is a remote risk. I don’t think you’re that much of a rebel! But I guess that’s a good thing, because it sounds like you were probably safer than you think you were.

  4. kelly says:

    @Eh: did you actually read anything she wrote?

    @Meredith: these are hilarious, going to try you penne ala vodka recipe for sure.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You’re not a rebel. Sorry. You’re normal. Lots of doctors don’t even warn of some of the things you mentioned. Most of it is hyped up on the internet more than anything.

  6. Debbie Richer says:

    @iris1973: I’ve bought unpasteurized cheese in the US, it was tasty. But I wasn’t pregnant when I ate it either :P .

    I really had no problems avoiding these things during pregnancy, I really had no huge desire for them. Most of these things are safe about 99.9999% of the time but I would hate to be the 0.00001%, so that combined with my general ambivalence towards these items was enough to keep me away.

  7. The Gentle Mom says:

    I pretty much lived off bacon and shrimp for my entire pregnancy. I didn’t even know shrimp was a no-no!

  8. lk626 says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I work with pregnant teens and they get so scared about breaking any of the rules and while we are very careful to advise them to make safe choices they slip sometimes and beat themselves up and worry they will be judged for being horrible parents-to-be.

  9. JGordonNo1Fan says:

    Excellent read! So many people I know give up everything (any caffeine, wine, sugar). I call it BS. The only thing that I gave up and it is killing me is sushi! I drink coffee, I drink soda, I eat salty bacon, ham and OMG I ate a BMT Subway Sandwich that wasn’t toasted, 2 days ago!

  10. chotamoti says:

    The first three months of my pregnancy the only thing that would stop the nausea was root beer so I’m right there with you on the pop. I’d have like four or five a day and I have a perfectly healthy baby.

  11. iris1973 says:

    Debbie, I did not say that you couldn’t buy unpasteurized cheese here; I said the US does not allow distribution of unpasteurized cheese unless it is imported (due to health risks). So yeah, you can buy it, but it’s from another country. Just check the labels, is all I’m saying! (and I am 6 months pregnant and I am still eating feta when I want it. :) )

  12. AndreaG says:

    My husband is from Louisiana too. The doctors giving this advice clearly don’t literally look forward to crawfish season each and every year, nor do they have in-laws that look at them weird when they say “oh sorry, no bottom feeders!” :o )

  13. Food4Thought says:

    I have to admit, I actually did the whole heat deli meat to steaming thing for the most part. Granted I knew the lady at the deli counter and used to work there, and they have a electric frying pan to make grilled cheese so it wasnt THAT much of an inconvenience but I did it. And I tried to stay away from Subway or, if I DID, I made sure I got it toasted and tried to convince myself it got warm enough to steam.

  14. bubblecup says:

    My OB (who is head of obstetrics at my hospital) OKed: feta, soft-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, and sushi (the raw fish kind!). I ate all of these during my pregnancies with reckless abandon. So Meredith, while I am amused, I remain unimpressed.


  15. Chanda Healton says:

    Shrimp and salmon are both safe, just limit it t 3 servings a week. Also not sure about the rest f you, but I can only eat the raw unfrozen shrimp (cooked of course but it tastes nasty if it is precooked r frozen before cooked!)

  16. Ashley Austrew says:

    I’m bored by all of these articles touting what moms got away with during their pregnancy. You broke the rules and drank a Coke. You’re so rebellious. Grow up.

  17. celeste says:

    I guess,as a vegan,and a recovering alcoholic,there aren’t too many things I COULD do while pregnant. So far,the biggest “bad” (sarcasm) thing I am even able to do would be to not exercise enough (sorry,just so tired and sick),oh,and I ate bean sprouts at a raw restaurant. I thought this article was cute. I think that some people were taking it as more serious than I think it was intended.

  18. LizabethO says:

    I really appreciate this article. First time pregnancy and if you read others comments in newsletters and forums it’s ridiculous how smug pregnant women can be! I try not to feed into the paranoia & self-righteous attitudes that a lot of pregnant women have. I try to eat healthy & make smart choices but YES sometimes I want a subway sandwich & I think it’s okay – I’m not making a habit out of it. Anyway – thank you for the article. It was fun & I needed to hear that it was okay to be pregnant & not walk around like you’re made out of glass!

  19. Audrey says:

    This was boring, unimpressive and much of it wasn’t necassarily “unsafe” anyway. Babble really needs to put up better articles in general.

  20. Rapha says:

    I’m confused, none of those are actually unsafe – my midwife said all of those things were totally fine. Why is this an article? Does the author want a medal for being lazy and eating cheese? This website is just bizarre, and not in an interesting or entertaining way.

  21. Bird says:

    As a vegan, I’m proud to say I don’t eat any of this crap anyway. It’s all horrible for you and horrible for the planet. Yay for being healthy and environmentally conscious even after my pregnancy!

  22. R says:

    Pointless pointless article …..

  23. irritated says:

    The writer of this article sounds incredibly selfish. You can’t hold off on some of these cravings for 9 months? I would rather not throw caution to the wind when concerning the development of my children.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I’m a journalist, and I recently asked an OB/GYN about beach safety for pregnant women. Here are his top 3 tips.

  25. anonymous says:

    i can honestly say, that i did all of these things as well, and much worse while i was pregnant. and i had a perfect, happy, beautiful baby. ancient Egyptians didn’t have books to read, or rules to follow when they were pregnant. i’m sure most of the time they didn’t even know they were pregnant.

  26. Jennifer Parker says:

    I do a lot of these things. With my last daughter I bungy jumped (did it before I found out I was pregnant) and I have a perfectly healty, super fearless little princess.

  27. Megan Jones says:

    This article is pointless garbage… I have two very healthy children and I did much worse than this! Only I did exercise, even if it was just a 15 minute walk.

  28. Megan Jones says:

    Oh and I worked beside subway and ate a COLD ham and turkey sub for lunch almost everyday with my second. I even ate cold tuna sometimes, so if you seriously think you’re an awesome journalist because you came out and talked about things that are “unsafe” during pregnancy then you need a demotion, not a medal…

  29. Kate says:

    My first pregnancy I was the moron who asked the deli guy to heat up the turkey. Now I just heat it up myself. Probably still not a big deal – and everyone at work makes fun of me…but it’s ALL I WANT. I live my 2 coke zero’s a day too…and even though I worked out I’m still up 57lbs (only 2 weeks to go thankfully!)

  30. jenn says:

    Its important to educate yourself on WHY certain things are discouraged during pregnancy. Things like caffeine and alcohol and mercury in fish can have a cumulative effect on the development of the fetus. so if you have a sip of wine once a week, or eat a big old fish now and then you really aren’t taking a risk, its all about moderation. However, the risk of Listeria is a one time thing, you just need to be exposed to it once to cause serious harm or miscarriage. So even eating cold-cuts in moderation is playing Russian roulette. I think OB/GYNs could do more to explain why each item is on the “do not” list, so you can make an informed decision about which ones you pay attention to.

  31. Anonymous says:

    The whole listeria from lunch meat is really overblown. The chances of you contracting listeria are around 7 in 2 million. Lunch meat is the least likely source of infection. The most likely sources of infection are undercooked meat. The chances that you and your child will die in a car accident are significantly more likely than you contracting listeria.

  32. Alya says:

    So what, you deserve a medal?

  33. Anonymous says:

    You know … if people don’t like to read semi-humor driven and completely indulgant articles, don’t read them. I personally don’t take many of the articles here on Babble as serious or fact or even COMPLETE opinion of the writer. Perhaps … some of you should learn what sarcasm is. JESUS. From a first time pregnant woman, I for one AM overwhelmed by the huge list of don’t do this and that and frankly, this article is humorous to me. Get over yourselves and perhaps learn a little laughter and humor.

  34. pjbfny says:

    @Angela: You do realise that women have reproduced for MILLENIA without all those rules?

  35. Kailia says:

    Not to judge, as I did many of these things myself, but note that the risk isn’t necessarily to your pregnancy, or even to the newborn, but your child is being FORMED from cells in those 38 weeks or so that it gestates inside of you. Those cells and neurons will be the foundation that your child has for its entire life and will also affect their biological children. nitrates aren’t good for anybody, a little alcohol also rarely does harm, but the chemicals that are found in shrimp and farmed fish could affect them long after you think you are causing any effect in the people you are making.

  36. this is stuff everyone should re says:

    What you eat, or don’t eat, during pregnancy WILL affect your childs risks of heart disease, diabetes, etc.

  37. mommyrox says:

    Honestly, I didn’t know hardly any of these. I gave up nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, made sure I took my vitamins, ate my veggies and took naps when I needed them. The doc said that was great. No one said I couldn’t have bacon. What? Sandwiches? Fish? They were all fine. There was no joy in eating a steak, cooked well done, so I would sub in a piece of fish when everyone else was feasting on cow. Granted, it was the 90s, and we thought we were righteous for putting down the merlot for 9 months. When did all these other rules go into effect?

  38. Ummm says:

    Not sure why people are either impressed or unimpressed. I think she was just sharing her experience. And would you unimpressed people be MORE impressed if she told you she snorted a line of coke everyday with her Cheerios? People- you’re only pregnant for 9 months, think more about your unborn child and less about yourself. Certain things ingested will not only effect your fetus but could put them at risk for certain cancers/diseases later in life. I’m sure Egyptians did fine without books, and they only lived until their 20′s as well.

  39. Brea Cairo says:

    silly story, I thought she would say something provocative.

  40. Brittany Nail says:

    Stupidity. I agree with Angela, I bet if something had gone wrong, you wouldn’t be up here gloating about how you ‘beat the system’. You’d be praising all the books that warns expecting mothers against such risky behavior. Utter stupidity.

  41. jada says:

    Buh! Everyone has their own way of going thru pregnancy it doesnt make one person better than the other some people have to slowly get off their addictions or could possibly lose the baby people do NOT need to add more stress to them while working on their problems saddly some people just dgac about their unborn children n manage to still have healthy babys its not a fair world people who are strict to a t end up losing their kid no explanation at all even people who had no idea they were pregnant till the baby popped out manage to have healthy babies everyone has an opinion but seriously get over urself becuz what works for you may not work for other people

  42. bill says:

    No smoking pot for nausea? No occasional glass of wine? Is this list meant to show the world how pretentious you are?

  43. Beth says:

    I respect this lady a lot, because you can see how you’ve all passed judgement on her and condemned her. I think maybe she wrote this to show that we can’t all be perfect, that we’re always being told off and told what’s best for our baby, what’s right, what’s wrong; when it may not be so. I say kudos, because it takes guts to make yourself available for criticism.And for that matter, people saying that you should think of your unborn child? You should think of yourself first. if you’re not fit to take care of yourself without a baby in you, you certainly aren’t fit to take responsibility for another life too. It’s not right to only give up on fast food and smoking when you’re pregnant. So don’t judge! Personally I think we allow far too many other people to tell us how to live our lives. And when the other people keep changing their midns or giving conflicting opinions, it’s time to start using your own brain rather than just parroting what someone else has told you.

  44. Anonymous says:

    While I think this blog was written in jest and some people think it is okay to do certain things while pregnant I choose to follow many of the dietary guidelines. Why? Because this was the only time in my childs life that I could control what when into their body. I also never at clod deli meat because I was not going to take the slim chance of loosing my baby to listeria. I don’t know how someone could know that there is a “7 million and 2 million chance of getting listeria”. Most people don’t get sick from the bacteria just the pregnant and those with a weak immune system so how can we even track the information. I would not want a patient of mine reading this blog and having an adverse event just because some people say to ignore the rules.

  45. Jazz says:

    Isn’t it really wrong to put vodka in your food as well while pregnant, or am I missing something??

  46. Chris says:

    This is a horrible article. Most of these things are really completely harmless, however the listeria exposure ones are extremely serious. Studies have shown that for some reason pregnant women are MUCH more likely to get listeria than anyone else. Also, getting listeria while pregnant carries a very high risk of miscarriage. Purposely doing anything that increases your potential exposure to listeria while pregnant is extremely negligent and way beyond selfish.

  47. Michele Akers says:

    With my pregnancy with my daughter I was the chic who followed the rules. Didn’t eat what I wasn’t supposed to and made sure I did not go over my allowed amount of caffeine for the day. This pregnancy I am like “whatever”, I want salmon sashimi so that is what I am going to eat, bologna sandwich- yep not heating that up, I figure there a ton of Asians who eat raw fish while pregnant EVERY day, so me doing it a couple of times a week should not be that big of a deal. What did pregnant women do before science was this involved???

  48. anonymous says:

    With my pregnancy I did drink soda even though I was warned against it and I would crave subway so I did occasionally give into my cravings and I had a glass of wine once every 2 months. My daughter came out full term and at 2 months was performing at a 4 month level and now shes 3 months and is already trying to talk, roll over and sit up and stand up by herself.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Woopdedo, so you had a perfect child after putting their life at risk from eatting cold lunch meat. Way to go, you cheated death. Now why don’t you let them play in the street and see how long they will last without getting hit by a car. You know how many times other kids play in the street and they never get hurt? Does that mean you go letting your child go that though? Gez people. What kind of mother says, “It has a possibility of killing my child, but I’m going to do it anyway because I’m craving it!” How can you gamble your child’s life like that?? Of course pregnant women back in the day didn’t do stuff like that, but that’s because they weren’t blessed with the science we have now. And look how many deaths there were and how long their life spans were! They definitely had a lot more due to illnesses and they didn’t live as long! People! Use your brain!!!

  50. Anonymous says:

    @Michele Akers ya, you know what they did before science? They died and had miscarriages.

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